B. POLEVOI into this mournful, anxious, long-drawn-out sound that rolled in soft waves through the forest. A magpie, cleaning its sharp, black beak on the branch of an alder-tree, suddenly cocked its head, listened and squatted, ready to take flight. The branches creaked with a note of alarm. Somebody, big and strong, was pushing through the undergrowth. The bushes rustled, the tops of the young pines swayed restlessly^ the crunch- ing of the crisp snow was heard. The magpie screeched and darted away, its arrowlike tail sticking out. From out of the snow-covered pines appeared a long brown muzzle, crowned by heavy, branching antlers. Frightened eyes scanned the enormous glade. Pink, velvety nostrils twitched convulsively, emitting gusts of hot, vaporous breath. The old elk stood like a statue among the pines. Only its flocky skin quivered nervously on its back. Its ears, cocked in alarm, caught every sound, and its hearing was so acute that it heard a bark beetle boring into the wood of a pine-tree. But even these sensitive ears heard nothing in the forest except the twittering and chirping of the birds, the tapping of the woodpecker and the even rustle of the pine-tree tops. Its hearing reassured the elk, but its sense of smell warned it of danger. The fresh odour of melting snow was mingled with pungent, offensive and sinister smells alien to this dense forest. The animal's sad, black eyes encountered dark figures lying on the crusty surface of the dazzling white snow. Without moving, it tightened every muscle, ready to dart into the thicket; but the figures on the snow lay motionless, close together, some on top of others. There were a great many of them, but not one moved or disturbed the virginal silence. Near them, out of the snow-drifts, towered strange monsters; it was from here that those pungent and sinister smells came. The elk stood on the edge of the glade, gazing with frightened eyes, unable to grasp what had happened to this herd of motionless and seemingly harmless humans. A sound from above startled the animal. The skin on its back quivered again and the muscles of its hind legs drew still tighter.